Accused BSO detective takes stand in his own defense
Brent Wooddell, a Broward sheriff's detective accused of stealing evidence and dealing steroids, had a pretty easy time of it in court this past Thursday.
He told his side of the story on the stand during his theft and official misconduct trial, coaxed along by his attorney Alan Grinberg. You can see some of that highlights in the video above. But on Monday morning, Wooddell will face cross examination -- and his story doesn't appear to be one that will be easy to explain.
After his partner said he saw Wooddell steal cash from a crime scene his own unit set him up in a sting involving a fake drug bust with a Miami police sergeant playing the role of drug dealer. The bust involved fake oxycodone pills and $7.340 in cash. Wooddell turned in only $6,000 and was arrested that same night.
Wooddell doesn't dispute he kept $1,340, but he said on the stand that he kept it because he knew he was being set up and wanted to turn the tables on those giving him what is euphemistically called an "integrity check."
He testified that he didn't trust one of his supervisors, Sgt. Ryan Hyatt, and suspected he was being set up shortly after busting the undercover detective because of some irregularities. He even told another supervisor, Sgt. Valerie Devlin, that he thought it was a set-up that night. Knowing full-well that it was, Devlin testified that she told Wooddell that he should do everything by the book and he would have nothing to worry about.
Yet he didn't. Instead Wooddell not only kept the money but according to testimony from fellow officers broke departmental rules by driving outside his district and returned to work that night with bloodshot eyes and a strong smell of alcohol on his breath.
The alleged drinking may work to his benefit -- his behavior and his explanation for why he failed to turn in that $1,340 seems to make no sense unless he was intoxicated. In short, he claims he decided he was going to show Hyatt and everyone else at BSO who had the audacity to try to set him up who was boss.
He said he was angry, felt that he deserved better, and wanted his "gotcha moment." Wooddell testified that he was thinking, "You're not smarter than me, this ruse didn't work."
Yet his gotcha moment, the taking of the money, was the only reason the ruse worked and he was arrested. BSO Det. Joe Damiano, who interviewed Wooddell after his arrest, said the detective wasn't so sure of himself that night, telling him he was "confused" and didn't know why the money was missing.
Problems with his story aside, Wooddell was strong on the stand; his experience dealing with juries at previous trials as a law enforcement officer clearly stood him well. The cross examination by prosecutor Adriana Alcade Padron will surely test him, though, and may be a fitting climax to what has been an intriguing trial.